South Africa Re-Opening Borders Next Month, Americans Excluded?

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South Africa…an amazing country that should be on everyone’s bucketlist! However, when South Africa announced the border would be closed to ALL visitors until mid 2021, flights were canceled (including my own), dreams were dashed, and dismay set in for many as they realized the amazing vineyards, the world’s top safari, and an amazing culture would be on pause for a long time.

Well, there has been another stunning development. Yesterday, the country announced it had updated its timeline, will reopen the nation’s international borders and will ease most other lockdown rules.


For context, South Africa (initially) had not seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases while other countries were experiencing exponential growth. As cases continued to grow globally, the SA government determined the best way to prevent an outbreak was close to border and discontinue international travel until mid-2021 and since early 2020, there have been no updates and the expectation stood firm.

But yesterday, South Africa announced it will move to Level 1 beginning next week and will re-open the border on 1 October 2020.


Here is how the process will work:

All passengers arriving by air will be channeled through the designated testing airports of Johannesburg (JNB), Cape Town (CPT) and Durban (DUR). 

  • Travelers need to present a negative COVID-19 test result < 72 hours from time of departure (note: All travelers will be screened on arrival also. Those presenting with symptoms will be required to have a COVID-19 test).
  • If necessary, travelers will enter a mandatory quarantine facility AT THEIR OWN COST.
  • All travelers will download the COVID-19 alert South Africa mobile app.

Again, it’s important to understand that a 14-day quarantine applies for passengers presenting symptoms upon arrival.


The good news is that South Africa is opening the border.

The (potentially) bad news is South Africa has not released a detailed list of the countries that will be allowed to enter, but countries with the highest rates (read: USA, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, etc.) may continue to banned.

The ugly news is American citizens may be on that list understanding that we have been banned from virtually every country in the world at the moment.

It would be really nice to see this view of table mountain…


United Airlines already flies a seasonal flight to Cape Town and announced they will fly to Johannesburg. Delta announced they will fly a triangle route between Johannesburg and Cape Town and South African Airways is on the brink of extinction. I smell blood in the water and I trust the South African government does too.

With Africa suddenly appearing on the radar for many airlines, I trust the past few months have been extremely tough for South Africa as the country relies heavily on tourism. I also believe that attempting to balance the economy with restricting access has been burdensome, but implementing a pre-travel testing program is the ideal situation for South Africa.

Are you planning a trip to South Africa given this development?

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